Apparently I know nothing about tortoises. I’ve made the classic mistake of judging a book by its cover. Tortoises look slow and cautious to me, they appear guarded and so I imagine they are not very adventurous or creative. But I have been informed that I am very very wrong. So this piece is an attempt to correct my tortoise prejudice and to apologise to all the tortoise types around for the misrepresentation. And to say thanks for the correction but also to beg for advice and help. I need help understanding the world of the tortoise.
I recently wrote a post called “What if you are a scardey-tortoise?” https://theburdenofwings.com/2013/07/17/can-a-tortoise-have-wings/ It caused a furore – well I got two slightly annoyed comments – for me and this very baby blog, that’s an uproar, I don’t usually get any comments. I got one comment on the blog from Elva saying:
“Actually they are passionate and loving animals and if anyone has been lucky to have had one or two as a pet they can learn trust and even walk up to their owner and push into them in a show of affection. I used to have a few as pets and they loved me. One was very special and she would love to lay next to me on the grass and she even followed me around the garden. Wonderful animals with a great outlook on life. “
And I got another on Facebook from Clair saying:
“What if the tortoise isn’t scared at all but is laughing at all us wanting to have wings to fly? Who knows, maybe he is soaring inside his little world? “
To be honest both comments sent me into a bit of a spin. I regretted that I had so misjudged the world of the tortoise and I was amazed to hear about a whole new way of being: soaring while still in a shell!!! I had never considered that these Jurassic creatures might be bopping around under their sturdy houses and having a great old time. Apparently some of them are and some of them are loving and passionate. So it seems it is possible to fly without wings and there are many tortoise types apparently who do fly, albeit in a different way.
I have to admit that initially I scoffed at the idea of being able to fly from within a shell. I considered the idea that they only think they are soaring. I figured that they are in denial about their need to create and fly and are so scared to come out of the shell that they needed to believe that it was possible to live a full life in complete shelter. But of course that got me thinking. What do the tortoise types think about the types who long to fly and use their wings? Do they think we are ungrounded, head in the cloud dreamers? Do they think we just want to escape? Do they think we don’t have any happiness in our home and need to escape? It seems that both types of creatures could catastrophically misunderstand each other quite easily. So I am left questioning my tortoise prejudice and wondering if in fact the tortoise types don’t have it right – soaring in there under their beautiful shells. I wonder if the need to develop wings is a bit fey? Perhaps there’s a bit of truth in both approaches? I think we all need to fly but perhaps we all also need a safe place to come home to and we supported by in our flight?
I really don’t know the answer to this one and I suspect the tortoise types might have more to say on this matter and I wonder if the winged types will have time to sit down and consider the dilemma. So if you have any ideas or suggestions about this dilemma please let me know. Who’s right, the tortoises, or the winged ones? Are they both wrong? Are they both right?
I love the photograph. It’s brilliant.
I enjoyed reading about your dilemma. I guess there is no right or wrong answer. We just have to accept each other in all our different shapes and forms, wings or no wings. In the process recognize our type, our insecurities our strengths and become the best we can be. For example, if I am a tortoise type. I will accept that I need to come out of my shell once in a while. See how the other half lives. Maybe, I could try flying with wings, it might be scary, it might be fun. But,I am sure that I would be very happy to get home again to the security of my shell and soar in my own safe space.
Thanks Clair – the photo was taken in Dublin zoo when I got to be a zoo keeper for a day 🙂 I love the image of the tortoise soaring in his or her shell it’s stayed with me the past few days x
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